Ford said it plans to restart production at most of its main continental European vehicle and engine plants from 4 May.

Manufacturing will resume from that day in phases at Saarlouis vehicle assembly and Cologne assembly factories plus an engine plant in Germany, Valencia assembly in Spain and Craiova assembly and engine plants in Romania.

Production will restart at the Valencia engine plant on 18 May but there are no resumption dates for the Dagenham, England and Bridgend, Wales engine plants as the UK is still in lockdown and central and regional governments have yet to detail an exit strategy or timing.

“We need to prepare for a new environment once we are past the initial peak of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe with the key priority in our ‘return to work’ plan being the implementation of Ford’s global standards on social distancing and strengthened health and safety protocols in the workplace. Our employees need to know that we are taking the appropriate steps to safeguard their well-being at work,” said Stuart Rowley, president, Ford of Europe.

Production will start at a low level, prioritising sold customer vehicle orders from dealers, and will gradually be ramped up over the next few months before full production is resumed.

Production plans take into account supplier readiness, national movement restrictions and, dealer sales sites reopening in key markets, as well as customer demand.

Planned safety measures include requiring anyone entering a Ford facility to use a company provided face mask, and a face shield in some manufacturing positions and other positions where social distancing cannot be met. All persons must have body temperature checked on entry with scanning equipment that meets local or national regulations and restrictions. Workers must complete a daily wellness self assessment process to confirm fitness and readiness for work.

Work areas have been redesigned to ensure proper social distancing guidelines are maintained and a phased return to work will reduce employee density in buildings.

The company also will provide all employees with a personal care kit on return to work. They include disposable face masks, reusable thermometer and other hygiene items.

Ford will produce face masks for use at its Europe facilities for supply to anyone working at or visiting a site.

Some employees have continued to work on company sites over recent weeks to ensure critical services and, also from 4 May, those activities also will begin to ramp up towards more normal business levels.

Workers in non production areas also will start to return in phases from 4 May  with priority given to those participating in key restart planning and business critical activities, or whose job functions require them to use specialised equipment only available at company sites, such as vehicle testing apparatus.

Others who can work remotely will continue to do so for now, including those on short time working arrangements.